A bill that expands direct primary care services is on its way to the Governor’s desk for final approval. Supporters of the measure believe that in the end, separating primary care doctors from insurance standards will ultimately trickle down benefits to the healthcare industry.
Direct primary care is a model where patients pay monthly fees to their doctors for specific care without dealing with insurance companies.
Currently, these agreements are not subjected to insurance regulations, but there is no written law that guarantees that. A bill on the way to Governor Rick Scott protects these direct care agreements, keeping them out of the Florida Insurance Code.
Rep. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) believes the model could lead to more preventive healthcare.
“With more affordable primary care, we’re going to be focusing in on more preventative medicine. Hopefully mitigating the need, more so than not, to have to present themselves to an ER, to an Urgent Care, or to other forms of potentially catastrophic situations. So preventative care is key, and we need to encourage that, and I think this bill actually helps do that,” Burgess says.
Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon) says this measure will not only benefit patients, but doctors who can circumvent the time consuming insurance process.
“We’re obviously looking for ways to be more creative, to offer different service delivery models here in the state of Florida. And this is an approach that would allow direct primary care physicians who want to take advantage of this opportunity to enter into agreements and avoid the 30% to 35% of their staff time that ends up getting consumed in dealing with insurance companies,” Lee says.
Not all lawmakers are believers. Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston) is fearful the bill could lead to more cases of patients being scammed.
“Eventually people looking to begin marketing it, eventually insurance agents in the field will probably sell it, and unfortunately people who are not licensed, have no idea what’s going on in the healthcare delivery system, they may be marketing this. And we’ve had plenty of scams in the past where people buy what they call ‘discounts to see doctors’, even though this not, it’s similar. And then people use this and they think they have insurance when they don’t,” Stark says.
Because the practice is relatively new, there is not enough available research showing its effects. But, the model has been endorsed by organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute. The bill is now awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s signature.